(30-60 minutes chopping time + 3 hr baking time + cooling time, serves dozens)
Americans are often scared of fruitcake. There’s a massive cultural myth that fruitcake is some horrid dry thing that gets pressed upon you by similarly dried-up aunts. But a real fruitcake, the kind that’s related to a traditional British steamed figgy pudding, is dense, rich, moist, fruity, and pleasantly alcoholic.
The chopping is labor-intensive (and would gum up a food processor), so I’d recommend having a few friends over to help and rewarding them with slabs of fruitcake to take home. (Note the long baking time, though!) Traditionally, you would use glacé cherries and other candied fruit, but Kevin doesn’t like them, so we stick to just dried fruit in ours.
Almond paste (optional)
1. Oil and flour a 9×12 cake pan or two 8×8 cake pans.
2. Chop dried fruit, mixed peel, and nuts finely. Combine fruits, nuts, and jam in large bowl, sprinkle with brandy, stir, cover, and leave while mixing cake. This can be done the day before, allowing the fruit more time to soak in the brandy.
3. Preheat oven to 275. In the biggest bowl you have, cream vegan butter or solid oil and sugar until light. Add very ripe bananas one at a time, beating well. Add grated rind, spices, and flavorings and mix well. Add semolina and beat until well combined, then mix in fruit (easiest done with your clean hand).
4. Whip aquafaba until stiff and, using a wooden spoon, gently fold (as best you can) through thick, stiff mixture. Turn into prepared cake pan(s), cover edges lightly in foil, and bake in 275F oven for 2.5 – 3 hours until cooked through in center—cover the cake with foil after the first hour to prevent over-browning.
5. Cool completely, preferably overnight, then remove paper and wrap cake in plastic wrap; if you like, you can sprinkle a few more tablespoons of brandy over the cold cake before wrapping it. Chill in refrigerator (or other cool place) for at least a month. Every week or so, you can unwrap it, add more brandy, and rewrap it, if you like that sort of thing.
6. Alternatively, ice the cake with almond paste and then cut the cake into small rectangles (about two fingers wide) and wrap each individually in wax paper and colored foil—this is the presentation we would use for weddings, where little girls would carry baskets of the cake around at the end of the wedding and give a little cake to each guest to take home.
Note: This cake can be kept in an airtight tin for a year or longer. It just gets better and better—I recommend making it no later than mid-November if you want to serve it at Christmas.